When my class was asked who supported gender equality, everyone had their hands up. But when asked who supported feminism the hands up diminished and when asked who considered themself a feminist, only three females had their hands up in a class of twenty people. Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women [...]


Everyone Should be a Feminist


When my class was asked who supported gender equality, everyone had their hands up. But when asked who supported feminism the hands up diminished and when asked who considered themself a feminist, only three females had their hands up in a class of twenty people. Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. In other words, it is synonymous with gender equality. So how is it possible to support gender equality and not feminism?

The fact that I am a feminist has always been so clear to me that I never understood why anyone would not be a feminist. Why would anyone not fight for equality and fundamental human rights? But now I have realised that people simply misunderstand it. People think only women can be feminists or you have to be an activist to be a feminist. To be a feminist, you simply have to believe men and women should be equal. People also commonly label feminists as “too aggressive”. It is a word that has historically been used blindly in our society as a way to silence women in particular due to the age old, not to mention completely outdated, notion of women being seen and not heard. And, of course, there are also the people that think feminists are “man-haters” which I can assure you, we most certainly are not.

If you meet someone who calls themselves a feminist but is in fact a “man hater”, then you can tell them they are not a feminist. Feminists fight for gender equality and anyone who thinks feminists only fight for women’s rights is mistaken. A feminist should not only stand up for women’s rights but also men’s rights and often it is feminists who stand up for men’s rights more than anyone else. The issue with men’s rights is that it is used as a rebuttal to feminism. When someone is talking about feminism asking, “well what about men’s rights?” is designed to discredit them. Both women’s rights and men’s rights present pressing issues caused by patriarchy that need to be addressed but if they are used as opposing arguments, nothing is ever going to change. The other issue is that it is actually misogyny that brings about men’s rights issues in the first place. Why is the male suicide rate higher? Because of toxic masculinity making men think they need to suppress their emotions to not be seen as feminine. Why are men discriminated against in custody battles? Because of society’s expectations that women should perform unpaid labour as a mother. Why are male sexual assault victims not taken seriously? Because of the notion that women are weaker and men are stronger so it would be embarrassing to complain about being attacked, especially by a girl. And it is feminism that is trying to change this. So if you do not support feminism because you think it does not give the same support to men as it does to women, you are completely mistaken.

Now you may ask, if feminists fight for gender equality and not just women, then why is it called feminism? The word was coined in the Suffrage Movement of the 20s. This was the movement that gained women the right to vote in the US. Since men already had the ability to vote this movement fought only for women but it still fought for gender equality as it fought for women to be more equal to men. Today, both men and women are being negatively affected in a plethora of ways by patriarchy so feminism fights for everyone’s gender-based rights. People still argue we should simply call it gender equality and not feminism but this would ignore the years and years of hard work and activism that the movement and its leaders have partaken in. This would ignore feminists such as Malala Yousafzai literally putting her life at risk to fight for feminism. Ignoring how far feminism has brought us and everything it has done for us would be detrimental to society.

We need women in charge. We need women in power. Because women understand women. And men who make the decisions in our world most certainly do not. Men have often asked me why women’s rights is still an issue when women pretty much have the same rights as men now in most countries. But it is what men do not see that is the issue. The fact that currently a significantly larger proportion of feminists are women and only a tiny proportion of government is made up of women means feminism is rarely incorporated into law. Sometimes, it is straightforward sexism. For example, the fact that marital rape is still not illegal in some countries and the fact that abortion is not legal in every country and the fact that in some countries women do not have basic rights like the ability to divorce or even trivial rights like the ability to buy alcohol and the fact that legal marriage and age of consent for girls in many countries is unbelievably young. But sometimes it is the failure to remember the opposite sex. Men in government often simply forget to take women into consideration. As Caroline Criado Perez argues in “Invisible Women”, the world has always been made for men and women are the “other” sex. And this is why positions of power should be evenly spread between the sexes. I think men in power feel threatened by feminism. They feel threatened that after years of male authority being the default, now people are fighting for change.

As Emma Watson promoted in her HeForShe Campaign, men have to be feminists. Men are still the ones in charge and without male feminists this will never change. Men benefit so much from feminism. Feminism fights for men to not feel obliged or forced to be the provider. Feminism fights for fathers to be given parental leave and spend more time with their children. Feminism fights for men to be allowed to express themselves and be who they are. Feminism fights for men to not be continuously mistreated by toxic masculinity. Feminism fights for people not to conform to society’s expectations. Feminism fights for human rights. Once, one of my male friends started enthusiastically advocating pro-abortion rights when my other male friend expressed a slightly opposing view. And me and my fellow female raging feminist friend were so shocked and proud. And then we realised how ridiculous it was that we were so unbelievably happy that a male was doing the absolute bare minimum. Simply using his voice. We were so used to everyone telling us to shut up when we start talking about feminism that this scenario was completely new to us. Men do not quite understand the power they hold in a conversation. Simply by correcting a bigoted joke or speaking out against a sexist comment, they can completely turn around a conversation. Even by simply listening when feminists start speaking rather than joining the general eye-rolling, a male could cause so many other males who used to refuse to listen, to change. Imagine what the world would look like with male feminist activists.

Patriarchy is most certainly not an issue of the past; it is very much an issue of the present. And this is what feminism strives to dismantle.

Session XIV of SLMUN will be held on the 22nd and 23rd of January 2022 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka. Registrations for delegates, admins and IPC delegates are now open until the 10th January 2022. 

For further details, head on over to our website on www.slmun.org , or  please contact us via:

Email – cda@slmun.org / pr@slmun.org

Telephone – +94 71 801 3722 /+94 71 444 9694 / +94 76 898 9763

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